Water is the very essence of life on earth. Life began within water and lives depend upon it. Without water, a person could not last more than three days. Every person needs 5 to 10 gallons of safe freshwater per day. But in many communities where the Maryknoll Sisters serve, water is scarce and unsanitary. Those who do not have access to clean drinking water use whatever water is available, jeopardizing their health.
Water scarcity and limited access presents many physical and economic challenges:
- More than 663 million people worldwide do not have access to safe freshwater, something that the United Nations recognizes as a fundamental human right.
- Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death—88% of diarrheal deaths are due to lack of sanitation and safe water
- As the environment deteriorates, women’s livelihoods become increasingly vulnerable.
- More than 1 billion women, or one in three women around the world, do not have access to a safe, private toilet.
- Dirty water and poor sanitation are at the root of problems such as maternal and child mortality, and sexual violence.
- Many women in developing countries give birth at home without access to clean water, exposing themselves and their babies to infections.
- Without safe toilets, women and girls have to venture outdoors to relieve themselves, often at night, putting them at risk of sexual harassment and assault.
- In many poor countries fetching water is considered a the responsibility of women and girls, who spend hours toting water from wells, keeping them from attending school or caring for their families.
The Maryknoll Sisters help in many ways.
How can you help? Conserve Water!
• Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
• Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
• When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
• Don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth.
• Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor..
• When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
• Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
• Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle.
• Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.
• Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.